Film Review: The Tunnel

A found footage horror, The Tunnel takes on a documentary style approach to this genre. This format is both a plus and a distraction overall.

Following news reports on government plans to use underground tunnels to solve Sydney’s water problems, reporter Natasha Warner grows suspicious when the story suddenly dies. After trying to investigate what has happened, Natasha and her television crew decide to explore the underground tunnels…

The Tunnel functions much like other found footage films. However, right from the very beginning, this seems at odds with the title sequence. This opening is suggestive of a traditional narrative film, thus undermining the ‘documentary’ quality of what follows. With interviews and news footage taking up a significant portion of the first half of the film, The Tunnel aims for authenticity. Perhaps the film would have worked better if the footage had been presented as reenactment, given that the film takes on a documentary mode.

As a horror film, The Tunnel takes a while to get going. It is not until the second half of the film that tension starts to build. As the footage is interspersed with interviews, it is more difficult to build on momentum. Nevertheless, during the lengthier sections of footage, there are some scares. The darkness and claustrophobia are good tools to build atmosphere.

Director Carlo Ledesma makes the most of the confined space. Ledesma also side steps a common error in this genre of film by not revealing what it is that is down the tunnels. This maintains a sense of mystery, and does not disappoint in the same way other films have by revealing something that is not as scary as the build up would have viewers believe. Also, given the limited budget, the fuzzy images work better than a clear depiction would have done.

The Tunnel offers some tension and mystery, but is not as successful as viewers may hope. One for found-footage aficionados only.

The Tunnel is out on DVD from 6th August 2012.